The winter blues.. many people are struck by them every year. Feelings of sadness, gloom, demotivation, and a reduction of sleep are very common effects of our summer turning into winter. And even though it’s hard to beat the blues, here are 10 tips to decrease the winter blues.
Soak up (sun)light
Get as much sun as possible. That means, open your blinds, move your desk in front of the window, and get outside as much as possible. However, not only sunlight makes us feel better, nowadays there are wake-up lights, which help improve your mornings by waking up more naturally than just with a loud ringing of your alarm clock. Many people also use light therapy, in which you sit for 20 to 30 minutes in front of a lightbox, to increase your light intake during the darker days of the year.
Being outside is not only important to take in the sunlight, but it is also important to get in enough fresh air. Also, you’ll see that once you are outside and go for a simple walk, you’ll see other people, or you might pass by a nice store, you’ll see some pets, or hear a kid giggle. Being outside makes you happier to come home again. So, make sure to get yourself a good coat and shoes for this winter and explore your neighborhood.
Adjust your food intake
We are what we eat and our body’s needs change with the seasons. The levels of vitamin B-12 and D are strongly related to feelings of depression, therefore it’s important to supplement these vitamins even more intensely during fall and winter. Firstly, make sure to eat food that includes these vitamins, however, if this isn’t enough try supplementing with vitamin pills. As it’s hard to know how your levels are, it’s never a bad idea to have your vitamins levels checked by the doctor.
Good news! Chocolate has proven to lift our moods as well. Do pay attention to which chocolate you eat though, especially dark chocolate is a mood booster, in any way shape, or form. So get ready for that chocolate milk mustache!
Plan a get-away
Even though many people go on their main holidays in the summer and close to home, it might be worth thinking about a sunny holiday in the winter for a change. Unfortunately, you’ll often have to spend more time traveling, but the benefits might be huge for those suffering from SAD or winter blues.
Are you more of a winter sports lover? Also, those holidays can be very healthy. You are close to the sun and in the great outdoors. Ensure to take some time during the breaks to expose your skin to the sunlight, instead of having everything packed away at all times. Do mind the intensity of the sun though, so don’t forget your sunscreen!
Physical activity is one of the best remedies against a gloomy feeling. It enhances your endorphin levels and creates energy. Additionally, while focusing on our sports, we often forget about all other things. If you feel your mind is still racing, try to find a sport where you need to focus on what you are doing – go dancing, go skiing, do a team sport or find a tactical sport.
Physical activity also doesn’t always mean you have to push yourself to your limits, it can also mean a nice bike ride through your neighborhood, some low-intense yoga, or walking your dog. You don’t always have to sweat to make your body feel more relaxed, increase your endorphins and just get away from your desk or couch.
Follow a sleep schedule
Lack of sleep is a common side-effect of the winter blues. You are not able to fall asleep at night and then having trouble getting up in the morning, which then results in a lack of sleep in the evening again. Following a tight sleep schedule can help you reduce this lack of sleep. Set an alarm every morning and actually get out, without snoozing for 30 minutes, and expose yourself to light straight away. Then be active during the day and set yourself a strict sleeping time.
It might be that you lay in bed and can’t sleep, resist the urge to reach for your phone. Rather, just lie there and rest, read a book or write something, but try to keep your room as dark as possible. You’ll notice that sooner or later, your eyes and mind will get tired and you’ll fall asleep.
Read more here about good morning and sleep routines.
Limit screen time
It’s wintertime, so time for the couch, some tea, a blanket, and Netflix, Instagram, and TedTalks all day. Right? However, drastically increasing the amount of screen time, next to your working time in front of the laptop, only increases your winter blues. Of course, we all want to curl up under that blanket and we all enjoy a good winter movie, however, it can also be the time for a puzzle, a book, some crafting, baking, a fall clean-up, or making some music. Screentime often feels easiest to turn to, however, just remember that for your brain and eyes it is not the most relaxing thing. Therefore, try to limit your screen time to a certain amount and then look around the house for other things to do.
Write a (gratitude) journal
More time at home, more time inside, more time with your thoughts. Sometimes that is a great thing, it’s the end of the year, a good time to reflect. What happened this year, what did you like, what are you proud of? And what would you like to change or improve next year?
If this feels like too much, another idea might be to write a gratitude journal. Every evening, take out a notebook and write at least 5 things you are grateful for. Some days, these might be big things such as buying a new car or becoming an uncle. Other days, these might be small things, such as being grateful for a hot shower or a clean house. Focusing on the positive in life, all the things we do have and we can do, make us see the negative things from a different perspective.
Talk about your blue feelings
As said before, it can be good to see a doctor and check your blood levels, if you are unsure. However, when your winter blues really turn into a depression, it might be good to talk to your doctor or another professional to see what makes you feel stuck and depressed.
Sometimes even admitting it to yourself and just sitting with these bad emotions, finding out what you need, can be a big leap forwards. Read more about this in our article about having a meeting with yourself.
Don’t forget to have fun!
It is dark, but that isn’t all too bad. There is music, nice food, candles, Christmas movies, beautiful nature, games, theatre, good wine, warm baths, comedy shows, hot chocolate, and friends and family. Try to let go of the homesick feeling towards summer and enjoy these beautiful days!
Recently, it was raining cats and dogs here, I was sitting in front of the window and suddenly saw a lady, her friend, and a kid. They weren’t grumpy and sad because of the rain, no not at all. On the contrary, they decided to dance in the rain.
Follow these or only some of these 10 tips to decrease the winter blues and make thus winter more fun than ever! If you do want to talk to someone about these darker months, feel free to reach out to us via www.coachingwithtouborders.com and schedule a chemistry session with Margo or one of our other coaches.